The Difference Between

The Boy-Who-Lived is nothing but a fraud. For, he was not nearly as perfect and light as he pretended to be. I wanted him.

Sitting with the other Seventh Years at the Slytherin table, I watched him smile placidly day after day. I watched him as he diligently did his work, as he escorted a parade of the right young witches on his arm, as he responded thoughtfully to questions in class. I watched him as he pretended and went through the motions of being the savior of the Wizarding World. But, when no one was looking, I saw the real Harry. The conniving Harry. The dark Harry. The one that craved danger, depravity and … me. I'd known it the second our eyes locked one afternoon. Emerald and Grey locked effortlessly and, after what felt like a lifetime, he turned and blushed. So pretty. So very, very pretty. I longed to be the first to take him. To mark him forever. To make him mine.

I wasn't disappointed. He fought me at first, as he was supposed to. But, eventually he gave in, as was inevitable. I gave him what I'm sure was his first real kiss, his first blowjob. His first fuck. Sliding into him for the first time—being the first to slide into him—was euphoric. He howled with pain and desire. He shuddered and moaned and responded like the little virgin whore I knew he was. He was absolutely beautiful and I was completely besotted. Lucky for me, he was addicted. He craved me as I craved him. There wasn't a dark corner, deserted classroom, or storage cupboard that we hadn't christened with bruising kisses and enthusiastic fucking. I gave him what he needed. I knew that every time I looked into his impossibly green, impossibly wide, impossibly innocent eyes.

His friends knew something was going on with him. And, frankly, my friends knew something was going on with me. But, it wasn't time to take our relationship public yet. Making Harry mine, completely, was a delicate endeavor. Unfortunately, my hand was rather forced one afternoon by my own head of house. He'd called me to his office demanding to know what I was doing. I told him I was seeing someone. He seemed surprised. He asked why we hadn't gone public and I smugly told him because I didn't wish it. Yet. He returned my smug smile and guessed correctly that I was seeing someone… surprising… inappropriate. After that, he abruptly changed the subject. I'll never forget what we talked about next. It didn't make sense to me then—I'd passed it off as Severus's characteristic double-speak. But, now it made perfect sense. Especially now as I lay here dying.

Severus saw me eyeing the glass tank behind him. He turned and looked at what was inside with an unexpectedly soft expression. He turned back to me.

"Do you know what's in there, Draco?"

"No sir, I don't."

"Hmm. You should. But, never mind. It is an adder. The only poisonous snake indigenous to Britain. Quite a lovely creature with its short, slender body and the black zigzag stripe running its length. Do you know what I love best about it, Draco? For all of its delicacy, it's incredibly cunning and strikes when you least expect it. Do not mistake its delicate beauty for anything more than a wonderful ruse. It is rather vicious and stalks its prey carefully, patiently. Rather like some of our mutual friends, don't you think?"

I nodded. At the time I assumed he was referring to the Dark Lord. I assumed he was warning me that if the Dark Lord found out about my liaison with Harry, he would assume that I was turning to the Light. But, now I know he was talking about Harry. Harry Potter. My Harry Potter. He wasn't warning me. He was making a prediction. A promise. One that is only now coming to fruition before my very eyes.

After that bizarre conversation, and out of fear of the Dark Lord's wrath lest he think me disloyal, I informed Harry that it was time to take our relationship public. He was resistant, naturally. But, after a bit of wheedling and cajoling, followed by hitting him with a healthy dose of guilt, he acquiesced. I promised him it would be okay. It almost hurt to watch his life implode. After everyone's initial shock and denial, and after Harry steadfastly swore allegiance to us, to me, he was shunned. Ridiculed. Taunted. Hated. My heart burst for him but a bigger part of me could not deny the exquisiteness of his pain. I caused it. Only I could take it away.

I held him night after night as he cried from the loss, the pain. Some nights I cried with him. Surprisingly, it began to hurt more and more to see him so distraught. I found myself doing silly little things to make him happy. I found myself becoming irrationally angry at the mean-spirited hisses directed towards my Harry. Only I was allowed to break him. No one else. No one else was allowed to hurt him.

More appalling, was the gradual realization that I wanted his smile and the sparkle in his eyes more than his pain. I started making love to him instead of fucking him. I'll never forget the look on his face the first time. He took my breath away. Tears pooled in his eyes and he asked only, "Why?" I shushed him with the gentlest of kisses and made his body sing.

He opened up to me more after that. He spoke over and over of feeling so alone, of not knowing what was the Light and the Dark anymore, of not knowing who he was. It was then that I had the brilliant idea to turn him. I knew that if I were to deliver a willing Harry Potter to the Dark Lord, I would be richly rewarded. And, I would have the added bonus of keeping my Harry all to myself. It was perfect. Our lives would be perfect. He would sit at the right hand of the Dark Lord. He would be feared. He would be admired. He would be mine. I loved him.

It wasn't hard to turn him. Dumbledore had done most of the work for me with his constant scheming and secret-keeping. Harry was nothing more than a chess piece to him. The rest of the world had turned on him, leaving him emotionally distraught and confused. I was his world. When we were together, I made him feel important. As if nothing else existed in the universe but him. He clung to me and gobbled up my attentions and affections as if starving. He would have said yes to anything, as long as my affection was secured.

I'd never been prouder of my Harry than the day I presented him to the Dark Lord. He stood tall and without fear. Power radiated from him and cast a viscous layer of magic over everyone and everything in the room. It made me feel lightheaded. He prostrated himself in front of our Lord, withstood the obligatory round of hexes and curses, reveled in the Dark Lord's violation of him, and took the Mark with the regality I'd come to expect from my dark prince, my Harry. Our Lord hadn't made it easy for him. He'd subjected Harry to twice the hexes and curses as normal, had taken him roughly and without so much as a lubrication charm, and had seared the Mark into his skin with such violence I felt faint at the sight.

When it was over, I carried him to our room for the night, bathed him, healed him, and held him close as he recovered from the ordeal. I summoned Severus to our room. His face was lined with worry and shock. It must have been difficult seeing the bane of his existence in my arms and at our Lord's right hand with the Mark burned painfully into his very soul. Technically, Harry wasn't allowed any pain or sleeping potions. But Severus now understood the power I held and turned them over to me without question. I could not bear to see my Harry in so much pain.

Not long after taking the Mark, Harry and I left Hogwarts for good. It was no longer safe for him there. Especially after Dumbledore tried to kill him. Luckily, Harry was as slippery as a snake and narrowly avoided his own demise. The war began in earnest then. Harry was a fierce warrior. He had little patience for drawing out the inevitable and killed quickly and efficiently. But then, everything changed this morning. Everything.

I discovered, quite accidentally, that Severus Snape was a spy. I shared my news with Harry who went apoplectic with rage.

"Where is he," he'd demanded.

Knowing what Harry was truly capable of I told him where I'd taken the traitor. He was pleased that I hadn't yet told our Lord. Harry convinced me to keep this between us.

"We'll have all the time in the world to play with him, then," he'd said.

I believed him. I'd locked the traitor in the attic of Riddle Manor, our Lord's base of operations. At this point, all of his followers were housed here. Because of Harry's status, we had beautiful rooms adjoining our Lord's, while most others shared cramped quarters in the basement.

When we entered the attic, Harry stopped short. He gasped. I took the expression on his face as one of excitement. How wrong I was. He turned to me and asked me to get us a light lunch—it was surely going to be a long afternoon. I thought it was odd, and my face must have shown it, because Harry smiled cruelly and said, "Imagine us feasting on fine food and drinking wine in front of this despicable traitor—especially after I hit him with a few of my more creative spells." I smiled in understanding. Harry could be very creative.

When I returned, I noticed that the traitor was now slumped against the wall. He looked worse for the wear. I shuddered with glee at the thought of what Harry had done to him. Harry was kneeling next to him, an odd expression on his face. He noticed me come in and motioned for me to bring the tray over.

"Have a little fun, Draco. Lunch can wait."

And have a little fun I did. Until Harry made me stop. I wanted to cut off the traitor's hands. He'd never brew potions again. If he lived long enough. Harry said, "No. His left arm. Slice it off at the joint. Let him watch as his arm falls away. Symbolic of his treachery to our Lord, don't you think?"

Whatever. I didn't care. Arm, hand, it was all the same to me—I wanted to cause him as much pain as possible. Harry insisted on a clean slice, however, knowing it would bleed more slowly—drawing out the traitor's death while we dined on duck and drank fruity wine. With one quick motion of my wand, I sliced through his skin and bone. I felt the rush of vindication as his face twisted and contorted. The traitor would have been howling in pain. If he'd been capable. Harry handed me my glass and took his in his hand, raising it high. I followed suit.

"A toast," he began, "to the inevitability of lies."

Odd, I thought, but appropriate. I took a large swallow. The effects were immediate. I looked up at Harry, confused. "What," I said, unable to say more. Already my body felt heavy and my mind muddled.

"Can't have you go running to Tom, now can I? You'd spoil years of hard work and planning. You see, Draco, I never left the Light. I just left the machinations of a world that wants to control me."

In my hazy mind I refused to believe that my Harry, my sweet, beautiful, innocent Harry, had done this.

"Impossible," I murmured, "I. I made you."

Harry laughed darkly. "What? You thought if you fucked me enough and caused enough pain that I'd follow you around like I puppy?" When I said nothing, Harry chuckled again. "You did, didn't you? Lucky for me, that's just what I was counting on." At my incredulous stare, he started mocking me "Oh, Draco! I'm so afraid. I don't know what to do! Oh, Draco! No one's ever touched me like that! Oh, Draco! What was that? Do it again. Please, Draco, Please!"

I wanted to cry, but couldn't muster the strength. I was already slipping into unconsciousness. "But you were a virgin," was the ridiculous thing my mind chose to focus on. I was his first. I was his everything. Wasn't I?

"No, I wasn't," he said flatly, "Not by a long shot. As lovers go, you're not terrible. But, I'm afraid I was spoiled by the best."

I whimpered at the thought of someone else having my Harry. Making my Harry come.

"Come now, Draco," he said softly, "You know there are spells and potions for that. Couldn't let you think my virtue wasn't intact, now could I? I knew how very important the thrill of being the first to take Harry Potter was to you. And, you were so very important to our plan."

I watched as Harry knelt before the traitor, whispered something and tenderly tucked his hair behind his ear. I inhaled sharply as my body staggered and fell to the floor. 'Our plan?' I thought to myself. I looked over again and saw tears in both the traitor's and Harry's eyes as they leaned into each other with a familiarity that underscored their intimacy. Oh. I see. The odd expression I'd seen earlier made sense now. Severus's bizarre conversation made sense now. His expression after Harry took the Mark—everything made sense now. It was Harry and Severus's plan. How funny that I could now see everything with startling clarity. "What are you going to do?" I said, my breathing becoming more labored, the sleeping draught quickly divesting me of function and faculties.

"I'm going to do what I was born to do," he said resolutely as he rose and slowly walked over to me.

Such fierce determination in his eyes. I'd only seen it on the battlefield. I knew then that he meant to kill our Lord, and me. All of the Death Eaters, actually. "Why the draught," I mumbled—the last words I would ever say. The conversation with Severus about his adder came back to me full force as I looked at Harry. He was poised to strike. He'd done an excellent job of tracking his prey. I closed my eyes, welcoming the darkness curling around me. I started when I felt Harry's soft caress across my cheek. I looked up and saw his impossibly wide eyes brimming with tears again. This time for me.

"Because you loved me," he whispered, "In your own sick way, you loved me. You shielded me from pain and I don't want to cause you any more than I must."

I nodded, as if to say I understood even though I didn't. It doesn't matter. I still love him and maybe, just maybe, he loved me a little bit too. As I slip into the comforting darkness, I realize The Boy-Who-Lived is the perfect fraud. I don't know him. I never did. He is confusing me with this show of affection, of care, as he resolves to kill me for what I am. I will never know who he really was. The green of his eyes is the last thing I see and I am grateful for it.

The Boy-Who-Turned-To-Darkness is nothing but a fraud. For, he will sacrifice himself to smite the one he calls Lord. I loathe him.

So much darkness. So much power. So much potential. That was what I felt when Draco Malfoy brought a willing Harry Potter to me. I'd watched with glee over the past year as his friends, his mentors, his family, his world deserted him. I felt the darkness growing within him. The need. The want. The desperation. I was impressed when young Malfoy thought to both woo and turn him. The mind is a fragile, fragile thing and Harry Potter's was more fragile than most. I should know.

He stood proud before me. Not even a hint of fear. So unlike the others. He had the audacity to smirk and wink at me as he prostrated himself flawlessly. He was so very beautiful. Deadly. But, beautiful. Malfoy would never be able to control him. The stupid child, for unlike Harry he was a child, didn't even realize that Harry would be my consort, not his. His eyes blazed with emerald fire and I knew that there would be no greater experience than claiming him.

I was vicious with my hexes. Even more so when I claimed him. How he undulated against me like the greedy little whore I knew he was. I knew he could take it. I knew he wanted this. Harry and I were cut from the same ragged, filthy piece of despairing cloth. All it took was the poncy Malfoy heir to show Harry where he belonged. It was with the greatest pleasure that I seared my Mark into his flesh. More deeply than anyone else's, because I knew that we were more deeply connected. Already in mind, recently in body, and finally in spirit. As sure as I knew myself, I knew that we would rule the world together.

Harry and I knew he wouldn't be safe at Hogwarts. But, it was important to keep the "Golden Boy" pretense as long as possible. Once his true loyalty was revealed, the war would start in earnest and I for one wanted the advantage. So, I gave him a special Portkey, set up his and Malfoy's rooms next to mine, and I waited patiently for my heir, my right hand, to join me.

The wait wasn't long. The fool Dumbledore actually thought he could outmaneuver my vicious little snake. Hadn't he learned yet that meddling with other people's lives never works the way you want it to? Hadn't he learned that with me? With Severus? With Harry? No. He would never learn. He would never understand.

The war began within hours of Dumbledore's pathetic attempt on Harry's life. We celebrated by fucking each other raw. After sending Malfoy on a fool's errand, of course. Harry had that love sick, besotted fool wrapped around his finger. Ever the arrogant one, young Malfoy didn't realize he was the prey and not the predator.

Every night thereafter we schemed, strategized and fucked. I'd finally met my equal in both the war and the bedroom. Harry reveled in the pain of our couplings. I reveled in causing it. He'd even asked me on more than one occasion to remark him while we fucked—burning my Mark into him deeper and deeper until even I could feel it. If I weren't about to be condemned to the Seventh Ring of Hell for all eternity, I might have the good grace to congratulate him on his strategy and cunning. But, I've never been the gracious sort.

He caught me completely unaware. Without preamble, he slithered into my bed, seated himself on my prick, and stared into my eyes. He rolled his hips experimentally, causing me to hiss all manner of nasty propositions in the only language we shared while in bed. He cradled my head with his forearms pressed against my ears and temple. He pressed his forehead against mine. And then he started moving. At the time I didn't know what I'd done to earn this afternoon delight, but I relaxed and gave into the feel of his body surrounding my own. We were connected on every level.

So, it came with some surprise when my drowsy mind didn't immediately recognize his whispered sweet nothings for what they really were. He was chanting as his hips canted up and down. He was chanting a sex-magic spell that would destroy all who bore my Mark. It was then that I truly felt it. His scar was burning me. His mark, my Mark, was burning me. I was burning alive. I tried to twist away but he held me firm, pulling his arms tighter around my head and letting his weight fall heavily against me as he pumped harder and faster. I screamed in agony as his chanting became more and more fevered. Worse still, my arousal wasn't waning. I was perilously close to falling off the cliff and I knew that it would be the last time. As I came, we both screamed. I heard the twisted, agonizing screams of all of my followers as their bodies twisted and flailed and died with me. I looked up and all I saw was green. I tried to spit at him, to claw at him, but could do nothing. And then, there was nothing. I was nothing. The Boy-Who-Turned-To-Darkness is the perfect fraud. But, I know who he really is; he is my betrayer.

The Boy-Who-Betrayed-the-Light is nothing but a fraud. For, the great savior of the Wizarding World lies dead at my feet, his eyes open and unseeing. I mourn him.

I knew Harry was angry after what happened in his fifth year. I knew that I'd lost the tentative trust that I'd spent years cultivating. I had so many wonderful plans for him. He was the son, no the grandson, I'd longed for most of my adult life. When he came back to school at the start of his sixth year looking paler, thinner and angrier than I'd ever seen him, I assigned him to Severus. Severus would sort him out. And, he did. He taught him Potions, Dueling, Defense Against the Dark Arts, Occlumency, Legilimency—in short, everything he needed to defeat Voldemort. Over the course of the year I watched Harry gradually change. He became… more content I guess. Happier. More mature. I'd never been happier. He was dating and doing "normal" things that all teenage boys do, even though he'd never been a boy. Not by a long shot. So, it was with immense sadness and shock that I received the news that he was dating Draco Malfoy. Draco had taken the Mark between his sixth and seventh year. I watched helplessly as Harry drew farther and farther away from his friends, his house, his mentors. His life. I watched him spiral into darkness and I couldn't help but feel a little responsible. I beseeched Severus to help him, but he refused saying he'd done all he could do. I'd known the truth of that. But, never in the way that I surely know it now.

When Harry took the Mark, I felt as though my life was forfeit. Everything I'd worked so hard to put into play had been for naught. The day he left Hogwarts forever, the day I meant to kill him, I asked him why he'd done it. Why he'd thrown his lot in with Voldemort.

He looked me right in the eye and politely said "I'm tired of playing by everyone else's rules."

When I mentioned that he was now playing by Voldemort's rules, he leaned in close, and whispered mischievously, "For now, perhaps. But, not for long."

Shamed with what I was about to do, I raised my wand to kill the child, the man, I'd labored over and molded for so long. My greatest creation stood in front of me smelling of rotted fruit and wasted plans. But ever the resourceful Harry, he wriggled from my magical grasp like a little black-zigzag-striped adder, winked, and Portkeyed to Voldemort's side. We were well and truly lost. I was sure of it. The Dark would win. The Light would forever be extinguished.

Once again, though, Harry Potter proved me wrong. It had all been a ruse. All of it. He had never left the Light. I'd known the second I'd seen his body, a wry smile still on his cold lips. But, it was confirmed when I found Severus and Draco. Draco was dead. However, unlike all of the other Death Eaters, his face wasn't twisted in agony, but bore the expression of one in a peaceful sleep. Severus was splayed against the wall, his left arm lay several meters away, charred and mangled. According to Severus who was, miraculously, awake and lucid, Harry had done all of this. He'd found a spell that would destroy Voldemort and all his followers. Including himself. The spell would only work, however, if the Mark had been freely given and freely taken. I shuddered at the choice Harry had made, the things he had to have done, the abuse he'd suffered at the hands of his friends. In true Harry fashion, however, he saved pain and life where he could. He'd given Draco a very strong sleeping draught that induced coma. Draco never felt the pain and agony that Harry had. Harry had ensured that Severus's left arm was cut off right at the joint, enabling it to be re-grown, before casting cauterization and numbing charms. Thus, saving Severus's life.

After getting Severus to St. Mungo's, I returned to Harry's side. He was a sight. Hair matted with blood from his scar, his eyes open and unseeing, He was missing part of his left leg, I noticed. The poor child wasn't even dressed as he lay slumped in Voldemort's bed. I removed my cloak and swaddled him in it. I closed his eyes. I cradled him in my arms as tears spilled down my face. I carried him back to Hogwarts; I returned him home.

The evening of his funeral, I sat in my office, alone, and wondered just what I had done. I had molded him so perfectly that I'd destroyed him. I raised my glass in salute to Harry Potter. The Boy-Who-Betrayed-the-Light was the perfect fraud, the perfect spy. I don't think I ever really knew he was. But, I know who I wanted him to be. He was my greatest hope. I will never know Harry, but I knew that Harry Potter was both my greatest success and my most spectacular failure.

The Boy-Who-Died-Defeating-Voldemort is nothing but a fraud. For, he is standing before me, my beautiful young husband, his face split in an impish grin. I love him.

He was supposed to be dead. We'd known that it was the only way. We'd accepted it, as best as anyone could. We'd planned a last tryst before he would cast the spell that would save the world but kill him. That stupid, insipid little Malfoy sod ruined it, of course. He'd discovered that I was a spy. Quite by accident. He'd forced our hand. I'll never forget the look of horror and regret that graced my Harry's face when he saw me in the Dark Lord's attic. We knew that he'd have to go forward with the plan right away. That afternoon. There was no other choice. Harry sent Malfoy away on a fool's errand and we quickly put together our plan. He kissed me one final time and I was lost in the softness of his mouth and the depth of his eyes. I didn't know how I would go on without him. "Forever," he'd said. "Forever," I'd replied.

As Harry often did, he surprised me. He made Malfoy cut off my arm, thereby saving my life. I would have killed him myself if I hadn't know that he was about to die anyway. We were supposed to go together in this. Our forever was supposed to start at the same time. Had I been capable, I would have screamed in agony at the loss of my forever.

I'd known he'd give Malfoy the draught. Even if Harry hadn't know it, I had. Harry was the perfect spy, much more so than I ever gave him credit for. At his core, though, he was still Harry. And, Harry couldn't stand to see others in pain. No matter the pain they'd caused him. With Malfoy sleeping away on the floor, he kissed me once more before running blindly from the attic, never once looking back. Not long after, I heard the screaming of hundreds of dying Death Eaters and a single tear escaped my eye. "Forever," I called out feebly.

The funeral was, of course, difficult. More so because no one knew of our bond. We'd been exceedingly careful. At Dumbledore's insistence, I'd trained the insolent brat for nearly a year. One day, we'd had enough of each other and released six years of mutual hatred in one long, virulent stream of hexes and counter-hexes that nearly killed us. After falling into a heap on the floor, I finally saw the real Harry. He didn't look any different. I just finally looked. He took my breath away. He later told me he'd felt the same way.

After that, things simply progressed. We both despised being ruled by our mutual masters and resolved to change our fates. We would die our own way and on our own terms. After all, we were both fatalists at heart. Harry found a spell. I had a plan. We spent months determining the perfect method of execution.

We bonded in the summer between Harry's sixth and seventh year. What had started out as a mundane evening in that awful little hovel his 'caretakers' called a room swiftly became a life-altering event. That night we resolved to put our plan into motion. That night, Harry told me he loved me. Caught in an infernal moment of weakness, I told him I loved him as well. I'll never forget the ridiculous grin he gave me after that. And then, he'd pecked me on the nose. My cheeks followed. After that, he plastered my face with his soft, feathery kisses. I was lost. He stopped abruptly and seized my face with his hands. His eyes, his beautiful, sparkling, cunning eyes, were awash in solemn desperation. In a moment inspired by either his Gryffindor romanticism or adolescent Shakespearian induced fantasies, Harry insisted that we bond, right then, so that we could be together forever. He'd muttered something about death being the next great adventure. Entranced by his magical kisses, I'd murmured my agreement in some vaguely simpleton way. He smiled again and captured my lips.

That was when I'd taken control over this newest, madcap adventure. With little effort, I tossed him on the bed and covered him completely with my body as I attacked his mouth with unforgiving, unrelenting kisses. He moaned and scrabbled against me. I relished his little display of temperament and will and pushed against him harder. He arched into me as I nipped along his collarbone. He called me God as I did that thing with my tongue in the place that only the two of us knew about. I stopped kissing him long enough to strip him bare before further maneuvering him onto that awful little bed, casting a silencing charm and torturing my Harry with nips, tweaks, kisses and touches. He was a breathy, sobbing mess. The sight of him like that made me love him all the more. We made glorious love and bonded in a dramatic display of magic. So much power in him. So much love. And, it was all for me. For us. I feared I would never be able to let him go.

And now, here it is two years later. Two years since my beautiful husband was lowered into the cold ground. Two years closer to forever.

The clues had been subtle, but unmistakable. Strange potions ingredients that were known more for their growing locale than their properties began showing up periodically. Not so much that anyone would notice. Unless one was looking. I was looking. It was Harry, I knew it. I'd known it from the moment the aconite and the bezoar had shown up in my floo. Harry was alive.

My anti-social behavior came in handy as I put the last clue together. I knew no one would miss me when I left this wretched place. Hogwarts hadn't been home since Harry had left. Without fanfare or histrionics, I calmly turned in my resignation, packed my belongings and left for my new life. No one bothered to ask me where I was going, not that I would have told them in any event.

I found him sunning himself on the rocks dotting the coastline. He was tan. He'd never been tan. I rather liked it. He knew I was there before I'd announced my presence. Good. He hadn't gotten lazy.

"You found me, then," Harry said, his head cocked to one side as he looked up at me.


"I left clues."

"Yes, I know. They were more subtle than I expected, though they still bore the inky paw prints of my clumsy little lion."

Harry canted his head. "I thought I was your beautiful black adder?"

"You were. Are."

We both shuddered as the bond we shared called to us. I walked to him and gathered him in my arms. "You're supposed to be dead," I murmured in his hair as I held him tight and inhaled deeply. He smelled of sunlight and ginger.

"I was," he said distantly as he rubbed his cheek against my shoulder. "Dunno what happened. All I could think about at the end was you. How you would finally be free. I wanted so much for you."

I nod as if understanding when I don't, and when I don't care. It doesn't matter. "I saw you," I say.

"No, you saw Blaise Zabini and some very complicated spell work."

"But they found Zabini," I murmur as I turn him in my arms and lick the nape of his neck, tasting him. I smile wolfishly when he shudders against me. My magic still works on him I'm happy to see.

He snorts. "No, they found part of Zabini's leg. What was left of his leg, anyway." Harry shrugged. "I had to make some quick decisions and I wasn't in the best frame of mind. He was closest and I figured if I wasn't actually dead why not fake it."

I nod again. The conversation is getting tiresome—the past no longer matters. It is only our future, our forever, that concerns me now. My fingers fan out across his stomach as I drag my tongue back and forth across his neck in long, languid licks. I delight as he shivers again.

"You want me," he says as he quivers with anticipation and his head drops against my shoulder.

"I do," I said as I fumble in my pockets. I pull out the platinum ring I'd made years before. It was simple, modest. Much like my Harry. Finally, I was able to do what had been denied me so many years before. I turn him again, so that he is facing me. Without a word, I raise his left hand, kiss the ring and slip it onto his finger. "I've waited a very long time to do that," I say as we both gasp and blink away unshed tears.

"I've waited a very long time too," he says. "You love me."

"I do."

"Same. I feel the same. I've missed you. Oh god how I've missed you. There were so many times I didn't think I'd make it. So many times I wanted to give in."

"Me too, love. Me, too," I whisper as I press him closer to me. We sat like that for a lifetime. When the sun begins to set, I feel him shift against me.

"I've got no money," he mumbles into my robe.

"I didn't expect you would," I chuckle. Harry Potter died two years ago, after all. Per his will, his vaults were given to the Weasleys. Except for a small one given to a foundation of sorts. We'd set it up years ago on a whim. Just in case our plan didn't go as we'd hoped and a quick getaway for Harry was necessary. There was enough that we could live modestly for the rest of our lives. That suited me just fine.

"I only have a crumbly little flat, but it overlooks the sea and its mine," Harry says as he pulls away slightly.

There was a hint of worry, of shame, ringing his eyes and furrowing his brow. I don't like it. Not at all. "Then, what else could we possibly need?" I murmur gently.

A beautiful smile blossoms across his face. "Just each other, I suspect."

"Good thing we're both here, then."

"Yes, good thing. Lovely, lovely thing," he says as his eyes flutter closed and he leans into me, kissing me tentatively, but greedily all the same.

Merlin he feels good in my arms. I'd forgotten just how perfectly he fit against me. He pulls me close and burrows his head into my chest. I'm reminded of why I love him when his soft hair tickles my nose and he moans at my soft kisses along his crown. I tug him away. "Come on then. Show me to my new home." He smiles again and scampers away, stopping and looking back to make sure that I am following. I rush to meet him and take his hand. I will never, ever allow him to fear my leaving.

We make it to his little flat in record time. It is small and modestly furnished, but it is beautiful and perfect. Just like my Harry. I can wait no longer. I take him into my arms and kiss him insistently. I revel in his mews and canting hips, as he melts in my embrace and reverently whispers my name over and over again. We fall to the bed and, for the first time in years, I make love to my husband. It is glorious and riotous and loud and imperfect. He hisses and moans as he comes. I roar and scream as I do.

Afterward, we lay there coupled, panting, sticky and bathed in each other. In the stillness of that moment I am reminded of exactly who he is. Who I am. He is Harry and I am Severus and we belong to each other. We have never been the people others imagined or hoped, or anything like the names and monikers with which we have been saddled. We are imperfect, misunderstood, lonely people who yearn for nothing grander than the simplest pleasures of life. We have always only been who we are. And, only we know the difference.



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